Journey of a 2nd Generation Songsmith
by: Davis Yancy Clegg
Well friends, I have been trying to avoid writing this particular blog. Though, sooner or later, I knew I would have to tell you all a few things about myself. By now, you may know my name is Yancy Clegg. I was born to Davis and Colleen Clegg in Flowood, MS. That’s just a stone’s through from the capitol of Jackson. Like many songwriters, I’m a second generation singer/songwriter in the Clegg Family. My dad, Robert Davis Clegg, was an accomplished writer that co-wrote a song that landed him a gold record in Germany. In Lehman’s terms, the record his song was on sold in excess of 75,000 copies and earned him the gold record. With media being what it was then, that number is far more impressive in the context of the 70’s and 80’s than it would be now. Once I came along, dad settled down, and continued to pursue music. But, his pursuits were a little more carefully guarded with his family’s livelihood at stake.
I was first introduced to music when I was 4.5 years old. One Christmas morning, I awoke, stumbled out of my room in my onesie pajama getup, wiped the sleepy from my eyes and discovered Santa had someone squeeze a drum set down the chimney. I can even remember how I was thinking this Santa guy has got some packing skills! Now, I’m not sure if my parents thought this one all the way through, but that was the same year I got my first real tool set. It only consisted of a couple wrenches and a measuring tape. Little did they know, this particular playset was rather functional. They left me alone in my room to get their Christmas dinner contributions ready to make the trip to Grandma’s house in Crystal Springs, MS. Of course, my mom being the wonderful lady she is, overcooked. So, I was left to my own devices to practice on my new drum kit for quite a while. In theory, that sounds like a dream come true for a kid. Being the crafty tyke I was, I decided to integrate my gifts that year and take on a project. In the time it took mom and dad to get ready to go to grandma’s house, I had opened up my tool set and proceeded to disassemble the drum kit down to the last bolt! However, I did manage to pick out the drum lick from Phil Collins hit, “In the Air Tonight” before I played broke that set down like a Chevy transmission! My dad was less than pleased but had a very hard time keeping a straight face while getting onto me.
The following Christmas my dad took me out to see the first Home Alone movie, which I loved and still do. Upon returning home, I walked in the front door and there was my first love sitting tall and onyx black with ivory and ebony planks running all the way down it. It was a Kawaii stand up 88-key piano. I fell in love with it immediately. After seven long years of playing Beethoven, Bach, Joplin, and many of the other classic pianists from the period. I was accepted into the National Piano Guild and received superior rankings across the board all 4 years I participated. I had grown tired of playing the same genre of music, especially after my teacher refused to teach me anything else. At the age of 13, I was quite eager to rebel and play music that interested me. Some 3 years or so before I stopped taking lessons formally, I was walking around our neighborhood circle and heard a distinct sound I would later find out was considered “Boogie-woogie.” I absolutely fell in love with the upbeat and jubilant style that Joe Rogers – an extremely talented player – had worked up himself from playing by ear. It was then that I realized, the only way I ever made the piano guild was because I never looked up at the sheet music. While I could read it, the music seemed to flow infinitely more natural if I allowed my ears to guide me. Mr. Joe would go on to teach me how to train my ears to hear the music I wanted to play.
In high school, my uncle was the asst director of the award winning Pirate Band. It was in this group where I picked up the drums for the first time without the intention of disassembling them the moment no one was looking. I would go on to become the Captain of our 13 member drumline after having only picked up a pair of sticks the year before, and all those in competition for the spot with me had been playing since the 6th grade. It was no easy task though. I practice 4-5 hours every day for a year straight and sought guidance from the best instructor in the state. Throughout this time, I had also developed an interest in writing and the guitar, following in my father’s footsteps. Watching him try to break in to the Nashville scene with not much luck lit a fire under me to finish what he started after we had to move back. His last paycheck from the car dealership he was working at to keep our lights on was a whopping $1.27. It hurt my heart like a thousand knives to see him give up on his dream. I was in 8th grade at the time. So, with that context in mind, you may be able to understand the drive that I felt inside to excel where he was deserving, yet unrewarded. The music business has no compassion for the artists left behind. So, while I was immersing myself in percussion rudiments in high school, I made the decision to pick up the guitar. Having learned piano by ear, and being taught percussion by one of the best teachers in the country, I took what I learned from both and incorporated them into the style of guitar that I now use in my writing. For a solo act, having percussive elements and strong melodies are everything instrumentally. The way you approach music tends to shape the way you sing. At least, that was my method.
In college, I began to play out with the few original tunes I had written. God smiled down on my efforts and after my first two songs played on an open mic stage, I was offered gigs all over the Mississippi State University are in Starkville, MS. Once I felt I was ready, I moved to Fernandina Beach, FL just weeks after my 21st birthday. It was here that I truly found my voice and writing/playing style through listening to the already established acts like Wes Cobb, Chuck Nash, and Jimmy Solaria just to name a few. There were many many more! Now, Here I am 12 years later with an amazing group of friends whom I respect without bounds for inspiring me to become the artist I am and am still trying to become. A debt that can never be repaid. Now having released 2 albums and shared the stage with acts like Tim Reynolds (Dave Matthews Band), Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Bobby Lee Rodgers and the Codetalkers, and so many more amazing musicians, I feel beyond blessed. And now as you may have guessed, I’ve taken to writing in a whole new way, and have started a novel recently. I am so unbelievably grateful for my family, friends, and fans for supporting me all the years to realize a dream that I never was sure was attainable. I hope I can continue to bring smiles to all your faces through song and literature alike. For the mean time, you can find me 3-4 nights a week performing songs from my albums: “In Spite of it All” and “Sweet Turn-around.” Album 3 will be on the way in spring 2016. Contact the Amelia River Cruises office to find out when you can catch one of my shows on board. All my love friends!
Come see Yancy on the boat. Check out the calendar and join him on the Adult Twilight “BYOB” Cruise.